This weekend my wife and I took a couple of days to get away by ourselves, and at one point we had a couple of hours to kill before we were to meet some of my family for dinner, she allowed me to take a trip down memory lane and tour some of my old stomping grounds. I went through the old neighborhood in Alton, and with all the memories there also came a lot of sadness as I saw my old house in really bad shape and they are getting ready to tear it down. Grandma's house next door was already gone. The ice house up the street was gone, and the old place just didn't look the same. Touring through downtown Alton, there were some new sights to see, and I was quite impressed and many of the improvements. But block after block of the old neighborhood was vacant and often vandalized. And my memories are all that remains. There was a pleasant surprise though. Beginning when I was just 11, I found a quiet hobby... that of walking through a pretty much forgotten and neglected cemetery and reading the tomb stones. There were graves dating back to the early 1800's there, and I loved the stories they told. Over the years I had forgotten when and where that odd hobby began, but I remembered when we drove up to the grave yard. I was really happy to see that the city had "rediscovered" this cemetery and had cleaned it up and tried to repair damaged monuments and headstones. It's one of the coolest cemeteries I've ever seen. There is a large military section in it, with soldiers from the Mexican-American war and the Civil War included in it. Recently, a really nice addition has been added to the military section, giving these soldiers the recognition and honor they deserve.
We drove from there back to Bethalto and I honestly felt I'd been time warped. So much of the town remains exactly has it was when I left there 30 years ago. Somehow... especially after seeing so much of my childhood memories erased by the effects of time and progress, it was really nice seeing something that remains. I hope it always stays... but I know that is impossible, for in time, the same things that have transpired in East Saint Louis and Alton... they will hit Bethalto too. Time has a way of creeping up on us, doesn't it?
Glad I had the chance to see it all again, and, if only for a short time, replay my youth in my mind.